RIC M. REYES, Global Product and Market Combination Manager of East-West Seed, spoke on the “Current status of bittergourd production and marketing in Asia and market potential of bittergourd as a functional vegetable” on March 20-21, 2014.
This was at the International Bittergourd Conference held at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in Hyderabad, India.
He reported that some 340,000 hectares are planted annually to bittergourd (ampalaya). The leading producers are India, China, Pakistan, Vietnam and the Philippines.
He noted that although 58% of the production area is planted to open pollinated varieties (OPVs), there is a steady shift from planting the (OPVs) to F1 hybrid seeds. That’s because hybrid seeds are more resistant to diseases and also produce much higher yields. For instance, OPVs yield only about 8 to 10 tons per hectare while the F1 hybrids produce 20-30 tons per hectare.
Reyes says that bittergourd is a functional vegetable that contributes to lowering high blood sugar and high blood pressure. It has been used in traditional medicine to treat diabetes and is now commercially available as tea (from fruits or leaves), juice, extracts and pills. Global demand for fresh and processed bittergourd products is expected to increase.
The event was hosted by AVRDC-The World Vegetable Center, and Bittergourd Project funded by the Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) Germany.